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10 Things to do in Cadiz: A Charming Spanish City with Old World Charm

Last updated Apr 16, 2022 | Published on Mar 31, 2022

Cadiz is a delightful little city on the southwestern coast of Spain that is surrounded on all sides by the sea. An ancient port town with a history going back centuries, Cadiz boasts an appealing city center featuring grand plazas and narrow winding streets.

Located less than 2 hours away from Seville by train, Cadiz is the perfect city for a weekend getaway. Despite its small size, there are plenty of fun things to do in Cadiz that will keep you occupied as you explore this charming city.

Cadiz was originally founded by the Phoenicians with archeological remains dating back to as early as the 12th century BC. In fact, it is believed to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe.

The city also played an important role during the Spanish Age of Discovery. Christopher Columbus famously set sail from Cadiz on two of his voyages to the New World. In the 18th century, the city became Spain’s main trading hub with the Americas and many grand buildings were constructed as a result.

Today, Cadiz is a sleepy seaside community with lovely beaches and fabulous Old World charm. From touring the magnificent Cadiz Cathedral to exploring the castles dotting its shoreline, here are 10 of the best things to do in Cadiz, Spain.

Playa de la Caleta, one of the city's best-loved beaches and top things to do in Cadiz

Playa de la Caleta, one of Cadiz’s best-loved beaches

10 Top Things to do in Cadiz

Browse the Seafood at the Mercado Central

  • Open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm (closed on Sundays)
  • Entrance is free

Begin your visit to Cadiz with a visit to the Mercado Central. Located in the center of Cadiz’s Old Town, the local market features a variety of local vendors selling produce and meat along with various handmade foods and cheeses.

And don’t even get me started about the seafood! It should be no surprise that Cadiz specializes in a variety of seafoods, given its location on the sea.

The market also features a collection of cafes and small restaurants where you can get a snack and a drink (or two!) while you shop.

Seafood on display at the Mercado Central

Cured Spanish meats and cheeses at the Mercado Central

Visit the Cadiz Cathedral (and Climb the Tower!)

  • Monday-Saturday 10:00 am to 7:00 pm / Sundays 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
  • Price: €7

The Cadiz Cathedral (Catedral de Cádiz) is a majestic structure that was constructed between 1722 and 1838. Known as “The Cathedral of The Americas”, the church was built using proceeds from trade with the New World and is one of the best things to do in Cadiz.

The Cathedral is located in the Plaza de la Catedral, a lovely square featuring magnificent views of both the Cathedral and the Baroque Santiago church (constructed in 1635).

Your ticket price includes access to the Levante Tower, which is one of the church’s towers. Be sure to climb to the top for amazing views of the city’s skyline!

Inside the Cadiz Cathedral

View from the Cathedral tower

Stroll to the Castillo de San Sabastián

  • Permanently closed (but you can stroll to the castle gates for fabulous views!)

The Castillo de San Sebastián is an imposing island fortress located just off of the Playa de Caleta beach. In previous years, the castle has helped to defend the city from attack.

A levee was constructed in the 1860s to connect the island with the city of Cadiz. A walkway spans the entire length of the levee so that you can walk to the castle from the Playa de Caleta.

Even though the castle is permanently closed to visitors, it is still worth the walk. The walkway has fabulous views of the city and is a great place to catch the sunset.

The Castillo de San Sabastian

View of Cadiz from the Castillo de San Sabastian

Soak up the Sun at one of Cadiz’s Beaches

  • Beach is open 24 hours a day
  • Entrance is free

Since Cadiz is located on a peninsula, it is surrounded on all sides by the sea. This means that it has no shortage of beaches.

One of the city’s best-loved beaches is Playa de la Caleta. Given its location between two historic castles, the beach has amazing views and is a favorite with both locals and visitors alike. It is also located only minutes away from the city’s historic Old Town area.

If there isn’t enough room at Playa de la Caleta, consider heading to Playa de la Victoria instead. It is a much larger beach and spans the entire western side of the Cadiz peninsula.

Playa de la Caleta

Explore Castillo de Santa Catalina

  • Open every day from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm
  • Entrance is free

The other castle flanking Playa de la Caleta is the Castillo de Santa Catalina. Constructed in 1785, the fortress was built on a rocky outcrop extending into the ocean.

A former military prison, the castle was declared as Spanish Property of Cultural Interest (Bien de Interés Cultural). Today the property is used for cultural events and includes a temporary exhibition hall along with space for educational workshops.

Visitors are free to wander about the property when the gates are open to get a closer look at the castle. The fortress also provides great views of the beach and ocean.

Castillo de Santa Catalina

Inside the Castillo de Santa Catalina grounds

Tour the Archeological Remains of the Teatro Romano

  • Open Summers: Mon-Sat 11am to 5pm & Sundays 11am to 2pm / Winters: Mon-Sat 10am to 4:30pm & Sundays 10am to 2pm
  • Entrance is free

Tucked away behind (and under) a few buildings near the Cathedral, the Teatro Romano de Cadiz is the world’s largest Roman theater. Or it used to be anyway.

After its construction in the 1st century BC, the building was abandoned in the 4th century and eventually covered up with a fortress. The structure wasn’t rediscovered until 1980 when some buildings burned down and the remains were discovered  – which were, surprisingly, largely intact.

While only partially excavated, the theater used to hold up to 10,000 spectators. Today, a museum sits over top of the excavation site and features artifacts and details about the theater’s fascinating history. Visiting the archeological site is a fascinating experience and one of most interesting things to do in Cadiz during your visit.

Teatro Romano de Cadiz

Relax under a Palm Tree in the Plaza de San Juan de Dios

  • Plaza is open 24 hours a day
  • Entrance is free

The Plaza de San Juan de Dios is a large square decorated with palm trees on the eastern side of Old Town. Bordered by the magnificent city hall building on one side and the Puerta del Mar (Gate of the Sea) on the other, the plaza is a great place to grab a drink and watch the world go by.

The square gets its name from the church of San Juan de Dios (Church of Saint John of God) which is attached to the city hall building and towers over the square.

Plaza de San Juan de Dios with City Hall in the background

Gain an Appreciation of Sherry, Andalusia’s Famous Wine

During your visit to Cadiz, why not spend some time gaining an appreciation of the local wine? Sherry is only produced in one region in the entire world: the Sherry Triangle. Lucky for you, this area is located just north of Cadiz in Jerez de la Frontera and 2 nearby towns.

Sherry is sadly rather unappreciated as it tends to be associated with elderly English ladies. Well, I am here to tell you that there is much more to this flavorful wine than Bristol Cream. Sherry comes in a surprising variety of flavors and colors, considering that it is all produced almost exactly the same way.

Note that you typically won’t find sherry on a menu in Andalusia (unless you’re in a tourist bar). Locals don’t call it “sherry” because to them it is simply another kind of wine. Rather, look for names of the various types of sherry such as manzanilla, fino, amontillado, oloroso, or palo cortado. If you like it sweet, then look for a cream or PX variety.

My personal favorite varieties are the amontillado and oloroso. These tend to be very dry with a nutty finish that stays on your tongue long afterwards. Yum!

Be aware that sherry is fortified so it has a higher alcohol content than most regular wines.

Sherry is yummy!

Climb the Tavira Tower

  • Hours: October to April 10:00 am to 6:00 pm / May to September 10:00 am to 8:00 pm
  • Cost: €7 / Advance booking is required

Cadiz has many watchtowers that provide an unobstructed view of the sea. Tavira Tower (Torre Tavira) is the city’s most famous example given its central location and height of 45 meters (147 feet). In fact, the tower used to serve as the city’s official watchtower in the 18th century.

One of the tower’s main attractions is its famous camera obscura. The tower also features a couple of exhibition rooms and panoramic views of the city.

The Tavira Tower. Photo by Jordi Vich Navarro on Unsplash.

Catch the Sunset from Puerta de la Caleta

  • Beach is open 24 hours a day
  • Entrance is free

There is no better way to finish your visit to Cadiz than by catching the sunset from Puerta de la Caleta. The Puerta is a gateway which leads to Playa de la Caleta and also the castles on this side of the peninsula.

It is also a spectacular place to catch the sunset!

From this location, you’ll have great unobstructed views of the sun dipping below the horizon – along with a few castles thrown in for dramatic effect.

Puerta de la Caleta

Sunset from the beach

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